Mark Germino and the Sluggers at Uncle Pleasant's

By Leonard January

Up until his ten-song set at Uncle Pleasant's on May 17, I had never seen or heard much about Mark Germino. I did know the lead guitarist for the group, Tim Krekel. I remember Krekel being the lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett several years back and then never hearing too much more about him other than his passing through Louisville, playing some one- nighters with unknown players. I do remember wondering why a guy like Krekel never hit it big with a band on his own. He is a superb talent, as far as playing goes.

As far as writing goes, 1got a chance to of his originals as the warm-up act for Mark Germino. I have to say that I was disappointed. The songs lacked any kind of a commercial imagination. The lackluster singing was worsened by a rhythm section. The harmonies were not there in any form and the low point of the set was when the drummer did lead vocals on one tune. "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play.

Mark Germino

I didn't. I got up and left as the drummer was grunting out either the end of his song or the beginning of a new one. As I was leaving the stage area, I figured I had the mystery of Krekel's career solved: It's the "great player, bad band. bad songs syndrome." But then I started to think about Mark Germino and his "Sluggers." I was sure hoping these guys would shape up.

Right at that point I looked over and spotted Mr. Germino sitting by himself, wearing his headband and sucking down a beer and cigarette. I had the opportunity to talk with him for several minutes, and I got the distinct impression that the man has seen it all. From Vietnam to being on the streets of Nashville, you know that his songs will have something to say. He is in the same school as Steve Earle, the anti- music-industry, go-against-the-grain, call- it-like-it-is-to-yer-face player and writer. (As a matter of fact Germino was using Earle's guitar for the show)

Germino is not a strong player. He uses the instrument like a blacksmith uses a hammer. He started playing the guitar because that was the only way he could feel comfortable reciting his poetry in Nashville clubs. His voice is probably a little sweeter than his drummer's but Mr. Germino does have charisma and style.

His opening number, "Down in Radar Town," evokes numerous urban images that an E Street fan would appreciate. "Let Freedom Ring" and "No Love in Unionville" were other great songs this night. Germino likes to dissect people and lifestyles of the establishment. Of course, he rounded out the evening with his cult- following classic, "Rex Bob Lowenstein, about the famous, sellout DJ. who epitomizes everything bad about the music industry and its idiot sister the radio.

The worst song of the night was something that Germino "had to play." It was attribute to Elvis and how we shouldn't think we "know" anyone just because we take a tour through their house. Besides being out of tune, the song rambled aimlessly. Mr. Germino didn't get consistent playing from his bass and drummer. They seemed constantly out of sync. Perhaps it was the sound onstage. I personally asked the sound man at Uncle P's to turn up the vocals.

All in all the ten songs were played earnestly enough, but the poor sound, unintelligible lyrics and poor opening band made for a lackluster night. If the Sluggers and Germino get all pistons running they could possibly attract the same rabid cult following that the band has in Australia.